Allan Wells was once the fastest man in the world, sprinting to Olympic glory in the 100m and winning a fistful of Commonwealth and European gold medals.
Born in Edinburgh in 1952, he started his athletic career as a triple jumper before switching to long jump and being crowned Scottish indoor champion in 1974. He turned to sprinting when he was already 24, but soon made up for lost time, winning the AAA indoor 60m title and the first of seven outdoor Scottish sprint titles in 1977.
The following year he went one better, winning gold in the 200m and silver in the 100m at the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton. He was also part of the 4x100m relay team that clinched gold. His success continued in 1979, when he won the European Cup 200m in Turin, beating new world record-holder Pietro Mennea.
The following year saw Allan’s greatest triumph at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow where, despite chronic back pain, he qualified for the 100m final in 10.11secs – a new British record.
In the final itself, he faced pre-race favourite Silvio Leonard of Cuba. With seven metres to go, the Scot began an extreme lean which saw his head and shoulder cross the finish line first by three inches, making him the oldest Olympic 100m champion at 28 years 83 days. The 200m was another close affair, with Allan beaten into second place by Mennea.
After his Olympic glory, Allan won further 100m golds at the IAAF World Cup and European Cup in 1981. In the same year, he also won the Golden Sprint title, which measured aggregate 100m and 200m race times to prove he was the fastest runner in the world.
This was followed by 100m and 200m gold at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane, and gold in the 200m at the 1983 European Cup in Zagreb. By the time he retired in his mid-30s, Allan had won 18 medals at major championships. One of his last victories was the Inverness Highland Games 100m and 200m double in 1987.
After hanging up his spikes, he became a coach for the British bobsleigh team. He was also the first baton holder for the Queen's Baton Relay for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
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